EXCLUSIVE: Major Romney Bundler Is Agent Of Foreign Government

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"EXCLUSIVE: Major Romney Bundler Is Agent Of Foreign Government"

Ignacio E. Sanchez

Ignacio E. Sanchez (credit: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars)

Ignacio E. Sanchez is a lobbyist at DLA Piper, an influential global law firm and a major bundler for the Mitt Romney campaign. A ThinkProgress review of public records reveals Sanchez is also a registered foreign agent representing the interests of the United Arab Emirates and of a former president of the Dominican Republic.

While political candidates are not legally required to identify bundlers — volunteer fundraisers who collect bundles of campaign contribution checks for the campaign — a 2007 law requires that federal candidates disclose the names of any registered lobbyists who bundle large amounts for their campaign. On Tuesday, Romney’s campaign reported that 14 lobbyists combined to raise more than $1.6 million last year in bundled contributions.

One of those lobbyist-bundlers was Sanchez, who raked in $86,700 for the former Massachusetts governor. This major fundraising raises questions about the level of access and influence Sanchez — and by extension, his corporate and international clients — would have in a Romney administration.

Unlike the other 13 identified lobbyist-bundlers, Sanchez is a registered foreign agent. A form filed Monday with the U.S. Department of Justice reveals that he beyond just representing the interests of those domestic clients, Sanchez also represents the embassy of the United Arab Emirates and the presidential campaign of Dominican Republic former president Hipolito Mejia.

Mejia is seeking to reclaim the job he held from 2000 to 2004 and lost in a landslide defeat, amid a national economic crisis and financial near-collapse.

The United Arab Emirates has been among the stronger U.S. allies in the Middle East and is a key player in OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. But the interests of the two countries don’t always converge and groups like Human Rights Watch have raised concerns about the country’s suppression of free speech and political disagreement.

In the past, Sanchez also represented the governments of Turkey and Ethiopia. Current federal lobbying disclosure forms show that he lobbies Congress and the administration on behalf of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide (which includes the Sheraton, W, and St. Regis brands) and Diageo North America, the makers of Guinness, Jose Cuervo, Captain Morgan, and dozens of other alcoholic beverages.

President Obama does not accept campaign contributions donated or bundled by federal lobbyists or foreign agents. In last week’s State of the Union address, he called for a ban on bundlers lobbying saying “Let’s make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can’t lobby Congress, and vice versa — an idea that has bipartisan support, at least outside of Washington.”

But Romney — who has not voluntarily disclosed any other bundlers — is apparently all too happy to accept money from those who are paid to influence policy decisions on behalf of special interests, foreign and domestic.

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